“Balancing intricate math with art, sound and flow” - An interview with SpinPlay Games
We’ve met with Serena Petersen, COO and Co-Founder at the math-focused studio SpinPlay Games to talk about their journey and their upcoming game Diamond King Jackpots.
Interview with Serena Petersen, CCO at SpinPlay Games
Welcome Serena! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us at SlotCatalog. Please introduce yourself and your history in the iGaming business.
Hi. I am Serena Petersen, Co-Founder and COO for SpinPlay Games. I actually began my professional career as a data scientist. Following graduate school, I transitioned to a games mathematician at WMS, now Scientific Games. After working in land-based slots for some time, I jumped over to a social casino startup based in San Francisco. From there, I co-founded a math and game design consultancy company that globally provided math design. At that time, we liked to describe ourselves as math game design global mercenaries. The next organic step brought me to founding SpinPlay Games. While there’s been a learning curve in breaking into the iGaming business, the focus remains the same during my gaming career, making a great game experience for players.
When did you get the idea to start SpinPlay Games and what was the trigger?
Working at the social casino start-up opened my mind to what was possible and gave me the confidence to start my first company--a math and design house--where we globally consulted with game studios to help enhance and expand their libraries. During that time, we met RNG Foundry and seized the opportunity to partner with Microgaming and ramp-up to a full studio. Hence, SpinPlay Games was born. Starting SpinPlay Games felt like the natural next step in my career path. I was excited about the opportunity to expand, learn, and create my own games.
What is your vision?
Our design approach in doing so is mathematics-based. We start with balancing intricate math models and then incorporate the art, sound, and flow that works best to represent that math model.
As a start-up, we had to take the time to learn our engine and further develop it. We made the decision to start with a simple game and continue to expand on features and functionalities as our library grows. As we grow, we better align with our vision. This is clearly demonstrated in our third game going live on December 3rd, Diamond King Jackpots. One can easily see the growth when comparing it to Roman Power. Our engineers have been given the opportunity to develop their knowledge of the engine in bite-size chunks from the simple mechanics of Roman Power to the more feature-rich game of Diamond King Jackpots. In addition, our art team has been given the time to grow and develop high-quality graphics.
We will continue to seize all opportunities for growth as we continue to strive to develop gambler-oriented, gaming experiences for players in our expanding library.
What’re the pros that come with being a young and more agile game developer?
We are always looking for approaches to get our games to market sooner. We may be limited by our size so it’s important that we be agile to quickly release games. We also want to be able to respond to the market and capitalize on gaming trends. It is imperative that we be able to adapt. It is embedded in our culture and our team embraces this as well.
Clearly, this has been demonstrated as we’ve shifted to the entire team working remotely during the craziness that 2020 has created. During this time, we’ve gone live on two games and released one game to testing as well as kicked off three more games in software. We have team members spread globally that allow us to basically be a 24-hour studio. Therefore, we are available to respond and adapt all hours of the day! It is exciting to see how we have all come together with our own dedication to make this a success.
What would you say are SpinPlay Games main strengths?
First and foremost, our individual team members, the experience we each bring to SpinPlay Games and the love we have for slots. Even though we are a fledgling studio, we are made up of industry veterans in real money and social gaming. This experience has allowed us to quickly ramp up. In addition, we are all invested in the success of SpinPlay Games, and we all do what is needed including continually expanding our iGaming knowledge to make sure the studio size doesn’t limit us in getting games to the market.
As a studio founded by mathematicians, I think it would be remiss to not mention math as a specific strength. We have the ability to create complex, intricate math models in-house as well as play test them on a proprietary simulator before involving design or software.
This allows us to continually manipulate a math model until we agree we’ve hit all the constraints and goals of the game rules. This also allows us to be agile in math creation as the market changes and to be reactive to design.
Let’s talk about your games! First off, big congratulations on your latest game Almighty Aztec. It certainly has received its fair share of prime lobby positions according to our data. We’ve seen it ranking top 50 for several different markets.
Thank you. It has been awesome to see the reception to the game.
How would you sell this game to players’ who haven't given it a spin yet?
Players will love Quetzalcoatl, the game mascot!! He flies by in the base game dropping expanding wilds on the reels guaranteeing wins. The scene is immersed in the wealth of Quetzalcoatl’s temple deep within a lush and mysterious jungle.
Quetzalcoatl starts the free spins off right by giving the player a guaranteed expanded wild on reel 3. Sometimes he can be extra generous and start the free spins off by dropping wilds on reel 2 or 4 as well. Once a wild lands and expands, it is held for the remaining free spins. Wilds can land naturally or be dropped by Quetzalcoatl throughout the free spins until reels 2, 3 and 4 are filled with held wilds.
Win potential and free spins are synonymous in this game. For this reason, we included a buy feature where players can buy straight into the free spins and jump right into the action!
In your opinion, what are the main reasons that this game has been received so well among players?
The features and win potential demonstrated through the design itself are very easy to understand. I think there is something to creating a design in which a player can identify, within a small number of spins, how to win on the game which is very appealing to players.
The base game is designed to train the player on the clear win potential in free spins as they watch the wild expand during the base game. It’s easy to envision how lucrative subsequent spins can become as these full reel wilds are held in free spins.
As Quetzalcoatl flies in, the player immediately understands an award is coming. It’s a guaranteed win during the base game and a guaranteed full reel wild on the 3rd reel during the free spins that is held for all free spins. As he continually helps to increase wins, how can one not love him?
Data has shown us the buy feature is popular as well for players that want to go straight for the chase and buy directly into the free spins.
In the math design, we intentionally balanced this option for players that want to exclusively play the feature. The potential is clear when multiple full reel wilds are held, and the guaranteed wild reel reduces the risk of the 50x investment.
Your first game, Roman Power, released in May this year was also received well by the market. Could you share some insights on the journey behind your first production?
With everything that goes into building a new startup studio, we knew that we needed to create a great game that didn’t overshoot our capacity. This was the first time our team was coming together. We wanted to allow for opportunities for us to grow professionally as well as culturally. Roman Power is simple by design.
We made the game for players pursuing huge potential pays and seeking that high volatility experience. We focused on clear win potential on every spin and shaped the theme, art, and sound to communicate that to the player. Fire equals win. Lots of fire equals BIG WIN! Just landing a couple of wilds to land with a multiplier gives a HUGE WIN. The chase in the game is very straightforward, and the ride is quite good.
Getting our first game out was quite a celebratory milestone! After releasing, we took the day and joined together in a volleyball game in the beautiful spring, Las Vegas weather.
You’re releasing your next game, Diamond King Jackpots, on December 3rd. What’s this game about and how did you decide on the game concept
We really amped up our feature sets with this game. We have jackpots, persistent state collection, a pick game, free spins, buy feature and our new Power Range™ feature. This will also be our first ways game with 1024 ways to win.
Power Range™ takes the player’s wins to a whole new level. In the base game, the Power Range™ covers the middle two positions on reels 2, 3, and 4. When a wild lands in the Power Range™, it awards a 2x wild multiplier.
Free Spins take the Power Range™ to new heights by covering all positions on reels 2, 3 and 4. The POW in Power Range™ doesn’t stop there! The power to multiply wins explodes with 2x, 3x, or 5x wild multipliers allowing for a huge win potential of over 10,000X!
Best Part - The multipliers apply to ANY screen win!!!
Players collect diamonds, the wild symbol, to trigger the pick game where they will win one of 4 jackpots. Diamonds that land in the Power Range™ collect twice as fast. The player’s collection is persistent so it's maintained across sessions.
And for players that love jumping right into the bonus, we offer an option to wager directly into the Free Spins feature as we do for Almighty Aztec. Quick and easy win potential.
We’re very excited about this game. We took a lot of elements from our personal favourites to create something that we think is really special. As previously mentioned, at studio inception, we made the decision to start with a simple game and then to expand on gameplay and features as our library grows. One can clearly see this manifested in Diamond King Jackpots compared to Roman Power.
We picked a strong, popular theme and really amped up the total game graphics. The graphic quality is top-notch and paired with the attention-grabbing animations, we believe we’ve created a game that players will continually come back to play.
What’s the SpinPlay Games ambition going forward?
Our goal is to become a provider that operators really look to as a player-focused, innovative, and consistent brand. Our pipeline for 2021 aims for more regular, high-quality releases with a lot of great features.
What does your roadmap look like, are there more games we should look forward to?
We’re really excited about our upcoming roadmap; continuing on our upward projection to enhance our engine and game mechanics.
We are at the point of studio ramp up to be making the kind of games we’ve been dreaming about since SpinPlay’s inception: fun gameplay with new twists on great gambler mechanics.
Thanks for the chat Serena! Would you like to say something to our readers before we say goodbye?
Thank you! I love playing and designing games and having the chance to share that with our own games is a dream come true. I appreciate the opportunity to share a behind the curtain look at SpinPlay Games.